As Washington’s population grew in the early years of the 20th century, housing demand began to move outwards from the District into Maryland. Residential development started to reach the area of Kenwood in 1927, when Montgomery County authorized the paving of Dorset Avenue into what is now Kenwood, initiating the development of the land along River Road corridor to the West of the railroad tracks for the coal train that supplied the Georgetown power plant. The power plant is long gone, and the railroad right of way has been turned into a walking/biking path running from Silver Spring through Bethesda, down to the C&O canal, and into Georgetown.
Construction in Kenwood Park started in 1954. When the early residents arrived, Minihaha Creek ran parallel to Millwood Road to the West. Neighborhood kids played along the creek, building dams and catching fish. However, when the forest to the west of the creek was cleared for Kenhill Road and houses were built on this western hill, the ground could no longer absorb heavy rains, and the creek began to flood. To solve the problem, the creek was diverted into an underground culvert six feet in diameter. Now only the depression in the ground along its original path gives a hint that a creek once ran freely there.
The last two streets, completed in 1970, were Kenhill and Eastview. These two streets are the only ones with underground wiring, no telephone poles, and metal streetlights maintained by the county, not PEPCO. The last three vacant lots on Kenhill, owned by the adjacent residents, were eventually built on in 2000. When there was no more space for new houses, Kenwood Park saw a growing number of teardowns and replacement homes, as had many other nearby neighborhoods.
The early residents of Kenwood Park, who were anxious to develop a sense of community, soon established the Kenwood Park Citizens Association (KPCA) with Mr. Ed Ragland as its first President. Among KPCA’s first acts was the forming of a Trees, Streets and Lots committee. One of the matters they focused on was a decision about the kind of tree to plant along the roadways. They wanted cherry trees, but they also wanted different ones than those in Kenwood, so they chose the double blossom, dark pink Kwanzan cherry. Unfortunately, the rootstock of the Kwanzan cherry tree at that time had an average life span of only about 15 to 20 years, so most have disappeared from our streets. The original KPCA also petered out.
A series of daytime break-ins and home invasions in 1982 spurred the KPCA to reorganize and hire a roving security patrol, with Neil Levy as the President. After ten years, crime had receded and interest in the organization waned. The KPCA was reconstituted in 1995 by Stephanie Russin and many helpers to foster our sense of community by sponsoring numerous activities for every age and interest. We incorporated as a non-profit 501c(4) organization, with Hannah Elson as the first president. Potluck dinners were started, encouraging residents to share international dishes. The Halloween and July 4 parties are annual traditions and in 2015 KPCA started sponsoring block parties. Members can start their own interest clubs; currently we have a book club, bridge club, garden club and dog walking club. KPCA sends out a newsletter up to four times a year, and publishes updates on its website and via the Kenwood Park list serve. In addition, the KPCA contracts with Urban Alarm to provide private security patrolling within our neighborhood boundary.
Kenwood Park has been the home of many distinguished people. To name but a few, the Astronaut Scott Carpenter lived for a while on Millwood Road. Senator Frank Church had a home on Marbury Road. Former House Representative Connie Morella lives on Millwood Road, when she is in town. Kenwood Park also has a strong international flavor, as employees of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have been attracted to the community, and in recent years, many of the houses have been purchased by embassies as residences for their officials posted here.
But beyond the distinguished and interesting people it has attracted, Kenwood Park has provided an excellent environment for fifty years for the families who have made their home here. Welcome!
Kenwood Park Citizens Association Board